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Hands-On With Doodle Jump Kinect

Before Angry Birds came along, Doodle Jump was that game your friends were always playing on their phone. In its mobile incarnation it’s a vertical platformer where players guide a cute critter upwards through a series of platforms while avoiding enemies and trying to not miss any jumps. As a “Autojumper” it would probably be too simplistic for most console gamers, but the developer is bringing it to Xbox Live Arcade as a Kinect title hoping that the motion-sensing controls will let this mobile game thrive in players’ living rooms. We got some hands-on with it this week and found that the new game is more than just a port with tacked on Kinect features.

Mobile games have made their way to the Xbox before, but usually through the Indie section where players can drop a dollar or two on games from small studios. However, Doodle Jump Kinect is positioning itself to take on the more elaborate games of XBLA and this means that the traditional mechanics need to be augmented. The original Doodle Jump games had a character named “The Doodler” who automatically jumped upwards while the Player was responsible for moving it side-to-side to ensure that he always landed on a platform. There were hazards to avoid, power-ups to grab, and players could kill enemies by making The Doodler land on them Mario style.

Doodle Jump Kinect uses similar mechanics, but is set in a new batch of levels, and adds in some more traditional console game features such as boss fights and levels with clearly-defined ends. Players will help The Doodler jump through three different worlds, each with its own theme like a Cave, or clouds.

Players will guide The Doodler by stepping from side to side. This isn’t simple Wave-your-arms Kinect gameplay; players need to move their body around the room to ensure that The Doodler lands in the right spot. It’s a tricky control scheme and we got a minor workout during our demo of the game. Aside from hopping around the room, players can also control The Doodler’s attacks by pointing their arms at enemies to shoot them. This part of the game had some problems, and the Kinect had difficulty in telling which arm was pointing where. It’s also especially hard because players need to aim their arms while simultaneously moving side to side to ensure that The Doodler lands in the right spot. This is still early code, so hopefully that particular issue will be ironed out before launch.

Aside from movement and combat, the Kinect will also let players activate special power-ups. When The Doodler gains a set of wings, players have to flap their arms to make him fly. When a jetpack is equipped they need to hold their arms straight up, like Superman in order to fly. A neat use of the Kinect is a Clap power-up; when players clap their hands it makes a sonic boom that will destroy objects near The Doodler.

The Kinect has been decried as an accessory that is just for casual party games, and Doodle Jump Kinect probably won’t change that perception. However fans of the series will certainly enjoy the chance to try a new take on the franchise, and players who haven’t experienced this series yet finally have the opportunity to give it a run on their consoles. Doodle Jump Kinect comes out for XBLA this summer with a price of 400 Microsoft points.

Charles is a proud contributor to Explosion, as well as the Xbox/ PC Department Lead at Player Affinity, a weekly columnist for Default Prime, a reviewer at The Indie Game Magazine, and a Special Agent at the U.S. Department of Electronic Entertainment.